December 27, 2002

Who needs a helicopter?

Today we flew in the Iao Valley. We got lots of good pictures, but I don't have the time or the bandwidth to get them all up to the site today. Here's one of the good ones, though for a preview:


The Iao Valley brought up an interesting problem, though. It would be difficult to impossible to fly the kite above the Iao Needle, and the rig in its current state is unable to aim above the horizon line (ie level with the ground) .. So, anyway, it was impossible to get a photograph of the Iao Needle from the air.

I would like to get maybe a 120-160 degree movement in the tilt servo to alleviate this problem. The servo currently only has about 90 degrees of movement.

Posted by John Laur at 10:44 PM | Comments (2)

360-Degree Aerials!

Finally, I got a decent chance to shoot a panoramic. The image is of Maalaea Harbor. It's nothing special, but I learned the ins and outs of shooting these beasts.

You will need Apple Quicktime to view the panoramic. Download it at here if you don't have it.

Maalaea Harbor (251KB QTVR)

Out of 22 shots of the same thing, I found that really none of them were particularly useful. This QTVR is the result of about 3 hours of intense image manipulation. Hopefully, it'll get easier with time, and I'll post a good tutorial of how to make them with some tips for hangups and getting good source images together. Until then, enjoy, and post comments damnit.

Posted by John Laur at 04:25 AM | Comments (6)

December 23, 2002

I bought a CF reader!


Sunset over Maalaea Harbor. More to come. Must go photograph before the sun goes down...

Posted by John Laur at 08:10 PM | Comments (1)

Hawaii Kite Photos

I got in to Maui late in the afternoon on Saturday. Attempts to fly the kite on Saturday were met with pretty dismal failure (Guess some wind might have helped...) Anyway, I got flying today (Sunday) and got a lot of good photos. The video system is working 1000% better than I expected (I mean, I expected to at least have to debug something, but I'm delighted that I did not. The shutter release is giving me troubles, though. I'll get it working better tomorrow. We got good photos today, but I forgot my CF reader, so no photos until I can go buy one tomorrow...

Read on for the full story:

We got here yesterday and, of course, I immediately tried to fly the kite before sunset, but we couldn't get it aloft. Anyway, we got flying today. It was very hard to launch because the buildings block the beach, but when we got the big kite finally in the air, it was too much to handle, so we took it down and sent up my new Flowform 16, which had much much less pull and was much easier to manage. I'm glad I got it because we couldn't have photographed today without it... We flew at the beach behind our condos and at the small harbor near here today. Tomorrow, we're going to try for Iao Needle (nature's own phallus)

Anyway, I have no photos to send because I left the compactflash reader at home like a dumbass fool. I'll buy another tomorrow at the store and get photos uploaded.

Finally, things are moving along on the volcano summit photos. It turns out that flying kites is illegal in National parks. I don't know if that applies to all national parks (doubtful) or only Hawaii Volcanoes system parks. The laws were passed to prevent sport kiting (paragliding, etc.) from happening, which is probably understandable, but the spirit really doesn't apply for this activity. I talked to many people at the park today who all would like to see what's up with kite photography, so my request is going up the ladder which is good news -- but the bad news is that with the Christmas holiday, it may not happen in time for me to be able to do it... I guess there's always next time, though.

Posted by John Laur at 02:44 AM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2002

New kite, Remote Video, Hawaii

I have completed the addition of a remote video system to the rig, and I have added a Sutton Flowform 16 to our arsenal of lifters. I take off tomorrow for Hawaii, and hopefully I'll be getting some spectacular shots down there.

Read more for some details:

On the transmitting end, the video system uses an Xcam2 camera/transmitter that has been modified to take video input from a digital camera. The built in camera has been removed, and the power is now supplied from a 9V rechargeable battery connected through a DCDC board which steps the voltage up to the 12V that the camera requires. Without the camera, the transmitter is pulling 87mA from the 8.5V NiCad "9V" rechargeable source; thus, the 150mAh battery should last almost two hours on this setup.

The Xcam2 Rx unit has been modified as well. I removed the RF modulator from the unit to cut down on its power consumption. It is placed in a hip pack with a 12V Gel Cell. Video goes out to a small LCD screen mounted on the radio controller. With this setup, we get a through-the-lens view from the ground. This opens up many great possibilities, such as placing a servo on the camera to control zoom; instant preview of shots, etc. It's kind of a shame there's not a better way to control *all* the camera functions remotely.

The new kiet is a Sutton Flowform 16, which should be a good lifter for moderate winds. At some point, I'd like to get a Flowform 30 too - that should give the ability to lift anything we've got in any wind.

I'll be visiting the island of Maui, and I'd really really love to shoot some panoramas over the crater of Haleakala. I have been in contact with a fellow kite enthusiast who lives on Maui who was kind enough to help me get in touch with the FAA contact for the area and the National Park Service and ask about clearances. The FAA has everything good to 2000', but the park rangers do not seem to be keen on the idea. I plan on calling them when I have a firm date to inquire again. I only want permission to fly at the summit parking area, and as such should not be in any way able to endanger myself or the endangered plants and animals. Hopefully they will cooperate. I can understand their reservation on letting someone fly a kite inside of the crater.

Posted by John Laur at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2002

Camera Quote

Frank got the quote back on his G2 yesterday. $150 for a fall of as many feet seems pretty equitable for that camera. I guess the fiberglass legs did their job better than I had expected.

There has been no wind as of about a week and a half -- not enough to fly anyway. It's been very dissapointing. Then, today I wake up to wind of about 35mph with gusts to 45mph. Great. Too much wind! We're not going to get a chance to really test the video rig before I leave on Saturday...

Posted by John Laur at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2002

We live to fly another day....

Our rig crashed. I guess I expected it to happen some time, but not today. Frank's Canon Powershot G2 was pretty heavily damaged, as was the rig. Hopefully, the camera can be repaired. Repairs on the rig are already underway. We will not give up.

Before it crashed, we got some photos over Medi-Park and the Helium Monument near the Discovery Center using a 7.5 sqft parafoil kite. The wind was too strong for the huge Pilot 50, and the 7.5 parafoil made it into the sky without a lot of problems.

We went to a second location and tried to fly the 50 sqft monster again. The wind felt a lot more steady than it had at medi-park and the kite was flying fine, but with a very strong pull. Shortly after the rig went up and got a little altitude, the swivel cut the loop attached to the bridle and the whole thing went down.

I would like to add a medium sized lifter to our arsenal such as a Flowform 16 for days like today.


Posted by John Laur at 06:40 PM | Comments (1)